~This poem was recently published in a women’s literary anthology! If you’re interested in all of the other amazing reflections on this timely structure, check out Death: Deep Reflections from The Sisters of The Holy Pen, ed. Pamela Eakins at:
Well folks, it’s almost time. My memoir, Food Memories, is about to be published. Yikes!
I finished the final formatting and updated the cover (this image is of the first draft, had to work on the drawing’s roughness) and have requested a proof copy. If it looks groovy I will be moving forward with publication. Soon.
I will say yikes again, I am terrified! I am a very private person and this revealing is crazy. Writing this blog has been great practice, thanks friends :}
But I am also very ready. It’s been over 4 years now (at least in the actual writing of it), this process simmering and writhing and pushing to emerge from me. I am glad to see myself seeing this through.
I have many hopes for this book, and what its publication may unleash…and yet I am trying to not be too attached as it is my first. Trying is the key word, how does one not have some expectations for something that’s been sweated and cried over for years? Trying.
The whole marketing thing zaps my brain into freeze mode, so we’ll see how that goes. For now, all I can say is look at my cover :}
As I sit here today, I realize this blog has become a mish-mash of sorts: updates on my memoir publication process, random spur-of-the-moment rants about my relationship with food and body, and an occasional burst of poetry.
My original intention for this space was to recount my adventures with trying to eat more joyfully despite the physical pain and discomfort of it all, and while I have done that to a degree, this blog has seemed to take a few turns from that place. So hats off to those of you who are still with me on this twisting theme roller coaster :}
Today I am pulled to give an update on the progress, albeit slow, of my upcoming memoir, Food Memories. Thanks also to those who have stuck through this with me as I wriggle my way through this process.
There isn’t a whole lot to say aside from the fact that I am closing in on the final touches of the last edit, have a cover/format assistant helping with its appearance…and am really close to hitting the upload/publish button (gulp). I still think it is a totally crazy thing to be doing this, but I am doing it anyway. I still tremble in my boots in thinking that the private thoughts, memories and revealing nature of my book will be out available for public viewing. For public commenting, kind or nasty.
And I still also fear that nothing will happen after I release it. Silence, grasshoppers, nada, nilch. That all of the years and money and fear and hesitation will have been for “nothing.” That is one voice in my head, of course. I know that the “process is the journey,” and I’ve learned so much from it. Yet there is a part that still really wants this book to have a powerful meaning and effect on its readers. This part wants to experience validation and proof that my urge to write and share this sensitive information, to splay myself out naked in front of the world, had some reasoning behind it.
Yet there is a part of me that is bracing, and accepting the possibility of only the chorus of crickets. And for that to be okay. For the fact that I had a powerful urge to create and share this thing, before I die, and that I did it. I’m really feeling more and more okay with that being it if it turns out to be true.
The ironic thing here is that I am not feeling pulled to do any marketing on the book, other than here, to get more people to view it! It is terrifying enough to have it available for public viewing, let alone me actively parading it around trying to get people to read it. I simply am trusting that it will find who it needs to find in the river, and if there is any kind of need for interaction that comes of that slow burning fireball lobbed into the universe, I am available. But purposely putting effort into getting thousands of people to read it? Sheesh no!
I have to laugh at my complicity in my own possible authorship demise, lol, but it’s true. And I am sticking to it unless some other opportunity reveals itself.
So. The update:
~Final edit, check.
~Cover and formatting, almost check.
~Boots quaking, definitely check.
~Acceptance and (mostly) non-attachment to outcome, check, check and check.
Thanks again for following my loopy process :} When I hit that publishing button, you’ll be the first (and probably only!) to know.
Behold, Pandemic Corona: Poems of Shock, Fear, Realization and Metamorphosis by The Sisters of The Holy Pen!
The “Spirits of Illness” poem I posted about a month ago was taken on by this anthology, along with several other poems of mine and about 30 other poet sisters accompanying. It is a wild ride of the various emotions, ponderings, thoughts, and energies that rode through us as the COVID situation was first beginning to take hold. Included are many different photos of each poet, masked, in their daily world during this global experience we all share.
So there’s that. Let me tell you it’s a weird thing to share about myself in this way. Although I express much here on my blog, there are a lot of people in my closer community that don’t know much about my blog, my memoir, my story, and I have kept it that way for a reason. Part of it is not wanting to expose these tender innards to those that could come up to me daily and spout their condolences, ideas, suggestions, etc at me. Part of it is that I just am not ready to be seen fully. But there’s also something about doing the whole “look at me and what I did” show on social media. I think it’s cool when others do it, but for me it feels a bit off of my way of being. And then there’s the whole marketing thing. Something in me shudders when book marketing tactics are mentioned, especially when “heart-based book marketing” techniques are mentioned.
Yet here I am, a part of a group project, one in which exposure will help my sisters and editor to be known. So I thought–what the hell? I’ll market or at least blurb for them…and in doing so, I’ve gotten a little practice in preparation for when my much more personally revealing memoir comes out. It’s been a lot less weird than I imagined it would be, actually. I’m considering even taking a selfie with me and the book for this situation, which is kind of strange. We’ll see how it goes. Needless to say, there’s been a quiet, subtle transformation inside me as a result of this, and I’m thankful for that as I continue to hack away at the publishing of Food Memories and the thought of bringing it into the world.
So I did it. I picked up my book, Food Memories, again.
I lit a candle and settled in to read the words I have been avoiding reading for months now. My intention was to review my memoir as a whole and to have a bird’s eye view of its message, to have some thoughts to dialogue about with my cousin. If you didn’t read my last post, I mentioned that my cousin has a connection in publishing, and upon reading my writing, he had a few suggestions before he felt comfortable forwarding it to his contact.
His suggestions were kind, but clear. He asked if I would attend to them and get back to him in a couple weeks. Its been 2 months now.
I finally felt ready to re-read this weekend. This time, it was easier than expected to look at my creation. I found myself transported from my childhood, through my teen years, the hospitalization years, the professional years, the vision quest years, the atheist/agnostic years. I remembered my dead mother. I remembered my dead boyfriend. I remembered my dead vision to become a healer. I remembered my poet. I remembered my writer. I remembered all of the years I have put into this book, its writing, and all the amazing people I have had cheering me on, reading beta copies.
I noticed typos, minor but there. I was not deterred. A crisp, truly shining manuscript will arise from my corrections, I found myself thinking. I even noticed where there were some holes in the story, and a few more food memories that might want to be added to fill the tale more. I also realized the gargantuan task I face in having to completely re-haul my book proposal, now that my promotion section is basically null and void. Book tours and conference workshops aren’t really viable in the foreseeable future, eh?
But all of these things did not make me stop reading, as they did before. There is a new determination burning in me, and I will do what it takes to get there. I will call my cousin, and tell him my findings. I will see what comes of that. I will contact my writing teacher, my editor, for their support and guidance on how to reformat my proposal for these times. I will ask for guidance on how to craft my query letters, how to hone my message, how to forge ahead.
I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Marketing and business is not my schtick. I don’t have an Instagram account, or even a webpage. (Hell, I still have a flip phone! By choice!). Yet I have spent over 4 years writing and crafting this book into being, and I will not let it be stillborn. At least I will not let it die without trying. This is part of why I keep writing and sharing here about it.
Thanks for coming along with me if you’re here. I hope to announce the release of Food Memories someday very soon.
The other day I was sitting by the window, and happened to look down to the book stack resting at the base of my cushy chair. At the front, facing me, was my not-yet-published memoir, Food Memories. In this moment, I realized that it has been many a day since I have mentioned this creative baby of mine here. I also realized it had been many a day since I had done anything to further its physical manifestation in the world. Somehow, I had completely left it sitting, stagnant and gathering dust.
Now, of course there’s The Virus to take into account for this stagnation. If you’ve been following me, you might remember my post about sending out query letters to publishers and agents, and my determination to do so despite receiving rejections. And that was my sincere intention, no matter how it hurt my brain to wander in marketing-and-selling-myself-land. Yet when this craziness started, I suddenly lost steam, reading left and right about how publishers and agents weren’t exactly excited about taking on new projects at the moment. This mixture, of my hesitancy to market, and the current publishing landscape, brought my efforts to a screeching halt.
I had also finally made the decision to allow one of my distant family members to read my memoir. My intention was to overcome my fear of them knowing these things about me, but also to possibly have him introduce me with a publishing contact of his. He read the book, and liked it, yet had some serious suggestions about its format and asked me questions about my message. He encouraged me to go back and read my book with these suggestions in mind. I picked up my book and began to read it, and my brain started turning to mush around how to, and whether I needed to, rearrange things. I noticed typos and passages that sounded not great. I heard my inner skeptic rushing in loudly that I needed to just give up this silly effort. The push of this was overwhelmingly strong. This was around the same time that The Virus hit.
So into the book stack my proof copy went. Into the shadows, underneath windows, not to be noticed. To give surface to spider’s crawling, a nook for a fly or two, for the dust to settle. There, Food Memories waited.
During this time, and although a bit hopeless and confused what to do, my focus directed in other ways. One of them being leading a group of women through a series of rituals to connect them with The Dark Goddess archetype within. Part of this work is to go into the metaphorical underworld, releasing all which we think makes us who we are. On that list was of course Food Memories. Years and years of effort and hope and purpose have gone into this book. For the first time in a long time I felt inspired like I never had in its writing. Yet having stalled, I felt at an impasse and perhaps like maybe it wasn’t my destiny to release it after all. So on the underworld altar went my memoir. I let Ereshkigal take this possibility from me and rested in the darkness of who I am without it.
Several weeks went by. We all went into the collective underworld together. The moon waned and went dark, calling us all into stillness. I let go. I let go and let myself float in Being.
And then, the moon’s crescent sliver smiled at me and I knew it was time. Time to rise, time to start taking action again. Time to pick up Food Memories and start again.
I began reading yesterday and felt carried through by my own words. I noticed typos and things I might change but I wasn’t affected by it as once before. Overall I felt a renewed vigor to do what it took to carry this book back into the world. I felt, once again, the spark of inspiration and vision I originally had while writing the book. Although the agnostic inside huffaws at the thought, perhaps in releasing the book to the altar of the underworld, a new life and motivation has come back to me. Perhaps. Whyever it has returned, I am thankful.
So, ascendant and waxing as the moon in the sky, I begin again. I ready myself to edit, I ready myself to draft yet another query letter, I ready myself to possibly re-haul my entire proposal to reflect the external and internal shifts that have occurred as a result of The Virus. I will report here, as I was before, how it goes.
Ascendant and waxing, I begin again. Thank you for staying with me.
I’m overwhelmed. There is a certain similarity to the process of research and sales necessary to pitch my book to publishers that reminds me of the process of dating, which I am also overwhelmed by. Here I need to primp up my words, sourced from the depths of my soul cauldron, to make it look presentable enough, attractive enough, to be looked at and considered by companies with thousands of letters and requests to ruffle through each day. Hrumph. I don’t like doing this for dating purposes, and I’m certainly not enjoying it for publishing purposes either.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I am enjoying the research process–looking at comparative literature, seeing how they market their wares. In fact, the other day I found a group of researchers that wrote an article basically calling out for stories like mine, the need for a new paradigm of seeing illness and “recovery” from Anorexia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5116854/. I even surprisingly found my thoughts and experiences mirrored in a book I chose for this process, one I read many years ago and was unimpressed by then: Wasted by Marya Hornbacher. Although I still think the mass of the book is triggering and not related to my journey, the afterword completely mirrored my experience, of Marya’s challenges with the ideas of recovery, at least the linear expectations of it, especially in hindsight after years away from the intense periods of her struggle.
These boons are making the process worthwhile, and exciting in a way, that there may be less of a need for me to completely strip my deep soul message to get “picked up” by a publishing house. That there are others out there that are “credible” I can refer to as having similar messages. That perhaps I can find a balance in representing my work professionally but in a way that doesn’t lose its message…and that a house will actually value that message, not look past it or ask me to make it more mass market friendly.
Yet it still reeks of the social game of dating, of looking pretty for attention, and it feels so ironic that I would be drawn into this process in my search to get my memoir out. My memoir focuses on the difficulties of extreme alteration to accomplish culturally popular goals, acceptance, love. How do I make this effort not that, which it basically is? I’m trying to see this process as a refinement, a conscious and balanced use of self-esteem and soul image to engender a pathway to expression in the wider world. I’m trying to see it like jazz–keeping my scatting, but presenting it in a way that makes its way into fine dining establishments and infuses the listeners with its real, raw and yet undefinable message.
Like dating, jazz is a hard genre to describe, full of complexities. Like both of these, so is the process of trying to market my book. Its uncomfortable, thinking of words I’ll use to impress publishers and readers to consider my book. Yet I’m up for it, mainly because I wonder if this process is exactly what my soul wanted me to engage in as I took on the process of writing and releasing this book. I’ve got hopes that I might learn some things, be surprised by some things, maybe even encouraged and lifted up by the experience.
So in the midst of all the car drama I forgot to mention that I received the proof copy of my first book, Food Memories! What an experience to hold it, in material form, in my hands. It has been three years since I received the idea to now having it in print form –albeit with a myriad of formatting errors due to my amateur formatting attempts.
At the same time, I also received the final edit of this manuscript from my editor, and that’s a whole overwhelming experience, with red marks and changed words and the like. I’m in that common stage of not knowing what the hell to do with the suggestions–which to keep, and which to ignore by trusting my own style. I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but I can see that a steaming mug of strong coffee and some dark chocolate may be involved in said figuring :}
At the bottom of my editor’s invoice, she made a small but important comment that she strongly suggests I pursue the traditional publication route. Well there’s an unexpected suggestion! I’ve been headed with her this whole time down the self-publishing route, but I guess there’s been a turn since her last reading.
So now I am aiming my sails at the process of query letters and comparative literature reviews, and seeing where it takes me. I know this route can take a while to yeild anything, if at all, soI have my self-publishing button all ready to go should it become too weary. But I figure I might as well give it a try.
For now I celebrate. Hooray for a manifested, physical object embodying my creation! Hooray for the appearance of a possible new path of publication! Hooray, for it lives!